Harley engineer Erik Buell has had one heck of a ride since leaving H-D in 1983 and starting his own company. On the roller-coaster of race, road, and corporate financing, Buell Motorcycles and Erik Buell Racing has produced some memorable muscle bikes, mostly Harley-Davidson based, but more recently with Rotax power. One of the final introductions before the company closed was the 1190RX, a 185 hp sportbike. Assets bought by a corporate turnaround specialist, EBR is back in business and the 1190RX could be a future classic, but at the very least is the best ever American-made superbike.
Based on the 1190RS race bike, the RX was introduced in late 2013 with an aluminum perimeter frame and v-twin developed by Rotax. The nicely oversquare engine has 13.4:1 compression, two port injectors and shower injectors, and lays down 101 ft-lbs torque. Showa supplies the "big piston" forks and monoshock rear which rides the stamped and welded aluminum swingarm. Signature Buell perimeter front brake is 386 mm and has a 8-piston caliper. Slipper clutch and steering damper are standard equipment. Theoretical biposto body has a neat cast seat subframe, and slick fairing with radiators visible in the side vents, and is a little reminiscent of a Ducati 999. Full-featured digital dash has multiple timers and adjustable traction control.
Listed by a Florida Harley dealer, it's a new bike with 12 miles, and has a yellow twin at the dealer also. The bike reviewed as fully competitive with the similarly-priced Panigale, that is to say a chore in town but a joy out in the open. Weight is just over 400 lbs. wet, and chassis architecture short and steep, very flickable. An acceleration monster, one of Cycle World's only regrets was the lack of upshift lights to help them avoid the rev limiter.
Sharing the runway with a Panigale, S1000RR, and RC8 is a pretty special event, and while one could quibble over refinements, it's an amazing introduction. Might end up the only American WSBK points-scorer, maybe just the first. The buy-it-now is just 2/3 of the MSRP, and it's an unused two year-old bike ! But support is a nagging concern, as EBR is back on their own ten yard-line looking for a big play. A crap-shoot as with everything worth doing, you'll have to weigh the risk and return in your own mind...